Cyber Monday deals used to begin on the Monday following Thanksgiving weekend but just as Christmas trees appeared early this year to maximize the shopping season, so did online shopping deals. I noticed online sales that began as early as Thursday and are continuing through Cyber Monday. This is great news for those of us who prefer to avoid malls and shops like the plague! But, don’t let your zeal for a good deal overshadow your need to be careful as you seek out your savings. If it looks to good to be true, it probably is too good to be true. As such, here is a review of my pointers from last year.
HOW TO AVOID ONLINE SHOPPING SCAMS
- Beware of spam emails and pop-up ads offering low cost products, airfare or cheap travel and hotel deals. If you attempt to use one of these deals, you could be providing your personal and financial information to scammers or inadvertently providing them with another way to steal your information. (when they download malware onto your device.)
- Be careful of the many fake websites out there. When searching for online deals, be sure to use software such as McAfee SiteAdvisor®, which gives safety advice about risky sites before you click on them.
- When using an unfamiliar website, look for signs that it may not be legitimate, such as poor grammar, low resolution pictures or spelling errors. On the other hand, a fabulous and fancy website may also be a problem. Do some exploring and research before shopping on any unknown sites and if you have any suspicions, err on the side of caution and avoid it. You can type the site name into your Internet search engine such as Google and the results will likely let you know if scams have been reported about that site.
- If a site does not list a telephone number and/or address, this can be the sign of a potential issue. If you call a telephone number and have a hard time connecting to a live person, that’s another sign of trouble. If you are unsure about deals from known companies, you should contact those companies directly to verify the information. This includes product brands, hotels or airlines. As a regular Amazon shopper I’ve been noticing an influx of products shipping directly from countries such as China. Most are probably okay. But others are not and I tell you this from personal experience.
- There is lots of counterfeit merchandise for sale in all price ranges. If the price is too good to be true, there is a good chance the label or product is not real. Fake products can include designer goods, cosmetics, jewelry and much more.
- Do not click on any link in a spam email or pop-up ad to avoid accidentally downloading harmful malware.
- Delete spam emails and do not use unsubscribe links unless you are positive it is a legitimate email from a legitimate source. (Hover over the link – content of links are huge clues to potentially dangerous links.)
- Make certain your virus protection is current and in working order whenever you access the internet. This applies to iPhones, iPads and Mac computers in addition to PC’s, tablets and Android phones.
- Use a major credit card and avoid debit cards and bank account so you have recourse with your credit card company if you run into an issue.
- Read return policies to know if you are protected if you receive low quality or defective products.
- Do not use free or unprotected Wi-Fi for banking or shopping. Do sensitive online banking and shopping on a secure and trusted network only – your home should be such a place.
- Keep an eye on your banking and credit card activity by looking out for any transactions that you don’t recognize. Set alerts for unusual spending activities. Question and notify your bank immediately if you notice any suspicious activity.
I hope you stay safe, but in the event you become a victim of an online scam, you can report it to any of the following agencies:
For additional cyber tips pertaining to vacations, holiday travel and holiday shopping, please review, Digital Safety and Security: Holiday Shopping and Travel Tips.
Wishing you a happy, healthy and wonderful Holiday Season.
Until next time,… Stay Cyber Safe.